Everywhere else in the NHL, they were having 'HockeyIsBack' say-you're-sorry fan appreciation nights. Not in Edmonton. No. None of that stuff here. They were saving the say-you're sorry part for after the game, not before the game. They were sorry they so spectacularly soiled the sheets and spoiled the celebration of the dawning of a new era. They were sorry they went down big to the San Jose Sharks after a first period in which they gave up more goals (six) than they had shots (four)! They were sorry everybody showed up prepared to create an atmosphere the old rink hadn't seen since Game 6 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final — except the Oilers, who didn't show up at all. The Oilers were down 2-0 before the fans had cashed in their free beer coupon. In the end the Oilers came back from down 6-1 after one to make it a much more respectable 6-3 result and not end up as it being the worst home opening loss since the Detroit Red Wings came in here and won 8-2 in 1997. In Edmonton the 'HockeyIsBack' return engagement was planned as more of a 'OilersHockeyIsBack' celebration of the franchise forging forward to the future, featuring a brand new glory gang, ready to replicate another era. And there wasn't anything subtle about it. Engraved in ice outside Rexall Place were the words 'Here Come The Oilers' and inside the theme for the dream was everywhere. It was on the scoreboard. It was on the LED ring-around-the-rink board. It was on the cover of the program. Oilers CEO Pat LaForge made a quick reference to being sorry for the lockout in a pre-game video message but seemed mostly there to show off a t-shirt with the message "Here Come The Oilers." The buzz around Edmonton going into the game was as if it was the first playoff game in seven years, more of an unleashing of three years of pain in finishing 30th, 30th and 29th to get to the gain instead of the 292 days of waiting since the Oilers last played in the place. Outside, jerseys of every Oilers player were frozen inside great blocks of ice — with player names engraved at the base each — to be thawed, signed by each player, and presented to draw winners. Symbolic, with the thawing and all, too. Instead the fans sat frozen in their seats, too stunned to react until late in the first period when they began to give Bronx cheers to Devan Dubnyk for allowing the fifth and sixth goals and finally to boo big time when the Oilers left the ice at the end of the period.
Fan excitement cools after Edmonton Oilers tumble badly in the first
Edmonton Sun | Jan 23